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 Ferdinand Friedrich August Pettrich  (1798 - 1872)



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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Germany/Italy      Known for: sculptor-portrait bust

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Ad Code: 3
Ferdinand Friedrich August Pettrich
from Auction House Records.
Bust of Andrew Jackson
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
A sculptor, Ferdinand Pettrich was born in Dresden, Germany and learned carving from this father who was the court sculptor to the king of Saxony. Pettrich as a young man went to Rome where he studied with Bertel Thorwaldsen, a famed Danish sculptor.

In 1835, he and his wife sailed for the United States where they settled in Philadelphia.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:

Born in Dresden, Germany, Ferdinand Pettrich received his early training from his father, Franz Pettrich (1770-1844), sculptor to the Saxon court and professor of sculpture at the Dresden Academy where Pettrich studied from 1817 until 1819. With the encouragement and connections of his father, he perfected his skills in Rome under Bertel Thorwaldsen, the Danish-born neoclassical sculptor. With the exception of a brief stay in Florence in 1823 and Athens in 1833, Pettrich maintained his studio in Rome until he decided to go to America in 1835.

While the majority of Pettrich's early work comprised religious subjects, there were some secular allegories and history subjects as well as portrait busts (Clark, p. 59).

Though his work was highly regarded in Europe, Pettrich assumed there would be even greater opportunities in the new Republic, and at the age of thirty-seven he with his wife set sail for the United States. They settled briefly in Philadelphia, then in Washington, D.C., where Pettrich executed the likenesses of such famous Americans as Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler and Andrew Jackson, then in the twilight of his presidency.

For various reasons, Pettrich's years in Washington were disappointing. He had hoped to be included in the group of artists winning government commissions, but his efforts were largely unsuccessful. In 1842 he narrowly survived a murder attempt while working in his Washington studio. It was the last straw for Pettrich. Shortly thereafter, he left for Brazil, where he soon became the court sculptor to Emperor Dom Pedro II.

In 1858, when he was almost sixty years old, Pettrich returned to Rome. He was rewarded with the commission for the monumental tomb of Cardinal Bartholomew Pacca, who had died in 1844, and created several allegorical figures, bas-reliefs, and portrait busts. One of his last works was a bust of the father of neoclassicism, Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768). He died in Rome in 1872.

Nancy Rivard Shaw 2001 Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc.


Barber, James G. "Old Hickory: A Life Sketch of Andrew Jackson". Exhibition Catalogue, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1990.

Barber, James G. "Andrew Jackson: A Portrait Study". Exhibition Catalogue, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1991.

Clark, H. Nichols B. "A Marble Quarry: The James H. Ricau Collection of Sculpture at the Chrysler Museum of Art". New York: Hudson Hills Press, in association with the Chrysler Museum of Art, 1997.

Craven, Wayne. "Sculpture in America. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1968.

Sotheby's: "American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture". New York, Thursday, November 30, 2000.

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